This post was written by NewTeeVee intern Chris Holt.
If you’re tired of waiting for ESPN.com and CBS’s SportsLine to condense your favorite sporting events into 20-second clips, there is hope. Over the last year many major (and niche) sports associations have revolutionized how their fans view their product by adding streaming video options, more accessibility to viewable clips, and new video-based projects.
The major market sports vary in terms of how much content is available online. If you’re a baseball fan, for example, MLB.com is still probably your best source for streaming videos and highlights. But you can also purchase the game of the week on iTunes. If that’s not enough for you, there’s hope: Fox Sports recently tapped Tricaster for MLB and NFL webcasts, which will allow multi-camera broadcasts for live streams. Essentially, the network is building the infrastructure to ensure more than just one game a week is streaming live.
The NBA has taken a different approach on highlight clips and streaming video of basketball games. NBA.com has a nice feature called a clip mixer that allows users to create their own highlight reels. Yet, despite a test run of a streaming system last year, there doesn’t seem to much push to create streaming video for games. However, the launch of the National Basketball Development League may change that because many are calling it the first true internet league.
If you’re a football fan, currently your options are even more limited. The NFL has some strange rules regarding video use. Among the rules is that sites are allowed to show only 45 seconds per day of press conferences or 45 seconds of game coverage for sites that cover multiple clubs. So there are not many great resources for highlights online, currently. Even worse, there are no streaming games online, but Yahoo broadcasts everything else — audio, scores, etc.
NBC recently just unveiled its answer to Yahoo in SundayNightIsFootballNight.com, a website with commentary, wallpapers, and other goodies, but still no suggestion of streaming video. The good news is that the 2007 draft was streamed in part on SI.com through its FilmRoom project and employed the metadata search capabilities of Gotuit. Whether or not the NFL will broadcast similar events in the future with Gotuit or another company remains to be seen. Finally, for those who have TV on their computer, the NFL has a dedicated cable channel.
Perhaps due to its abysmal television ratings last year, the NHL is the most experimental of the major market sports associations and is quite generous with the use of its hockey clips. TheNewsRoom.com, with help from Voxant, will distribute free clips and will subsequently generate revenue for sites that post the content. Similarly, Sling Media struck a deal with the NHL in June which will allow sharing through a “Clip + sling” format of live or recorded games. Anyone can view the clips even if only Slingbox users can clip and swing. This is probably the closest people will get to live streaming videos for major market games, other than P2P resources (more on P2P later).
College sports, on the other hand, are much more decentralized due to the nature of differing playing levels, conferences, and popularity of the respective sports. If you’re a big fan of the college recruitment process and like following your college’s success at recruiting blue-chip athletes, then Scout.com and Rivals.com are probably your best bets for viewing video clips. However, membership is usually required and can include a steep fee. College Sports TV or CSTV.com contains highlights and some live games but obviously caters to certain major market sports.
There are other options out there, however. CBS made headway last year by streaming video for NCAA Basketball’s March Madness and CollegeSportsDirect.com also has “live and on-demand” games. Again, the site panders to bigger market sports but to its credit does have some more obscure events as well. Finally, there are lots of highlight video clip collections out there. Aside from YouTube and ESPN.com, AOL has a decent collection of especially college basketball videos.
If you’re not a fan of American major market sports or college sports, there are still plenty of options online to follow your favorite sport and team. For streaming videos of soccer check out Free-Football.tv which claims to be the oldest and best resource for watching live soccer matches. A number of competitors have since come on the net scene, including SkySports.com, which has highlight and interview clips of soccer, rugby and cricket.
Perhaps the biggest competition is Virgin Media which recently secured the exclusive broadband rights to broadcast live streaming premier league matches and non-exclusive rights to broadcast Coca-Cola league games. For now, check out the free highlights: virginmedia.com/sport
If you’re into rugby and don’t find clips and interviews enough, then ITV.com announced it will simulcast all 48 matches of the Rugby World Cup as well as tacking on highlight clips. If you are into cycling and can’t get enough of the Tour De France, then venture here: velonews.com/vntv.
LiveSportsVideo.com boasts live webcasts of wrestling, judo, and lacrosse matches, but right now is selective in what it covers. The site boasts big goals, but for now it has some nice archived videos and highlights. If you’re a fan of golf, then you are already likely aware of Sportsline.com‘s coverage of the Masters tournament. Insidegolf.com boasts highlights and interview clips, but so far SportsLine remains your best bet for PGA, LPGA, and amateur golf video.
If you’re a fan of extreme sports, then there is a variety of options. For X Games fans, a joint venture of ESPN, Venture and MediaFLO will create a temporary mobile channel to broadcast the X Games live. Though temporary, the technology the channel employs could become a permanent fixture of future live sports broadcasts. For highlight clips of extreme sports, Extreme.com/video has a good cache. For general sports highlights, FanIQ.com has videos, sports news, and links to blogs.
Finally, in regards to P2P sharing, Myp2p and PPLive are services that allow users to broadcast and share their various sports video streams. You may need to download Sopcast to get particular streams, however. These sites boast live and free sports video that may not be completely legal.
While I’ve discussed a variety of options here, this is an incomplete and ever-changing list. If anyone has any other resources or news items to suggest, please feel free to do so in the comments and we’ll update the post.